Friday, August 31, 2018


I'm pleased that this appeared on Chris Hayes's show last night:
What will happen if Republicans retain the House in November?

From trying to repeal the ACA, to weakening the Russia investigation, Republicans would be emboldened by keeping control of Congress.

Hayes and his guests, Sabrina Siddiqi of The Guardian and Jim Manley, the former chief spokesperson for Senator Harry Reid, touched on a number of risks if Republicans keep unified control of the federal government -- that the Trump-Russia investigation will likely be shut down, that the Affordable Care Act will probably be repealed, that there could be new tax cuts for the rich accompanied by cuts to Social Security and other benefit programs, and so on. All this needs to be said -- and repeated -- as we approached November, because we need every vote we can get, including the votes of those who might they're too cool to bother -- hey, what difference does it really make? Aren't all politicians alike?

I think there'll be far fewer voters of that kind this year -- most left-leaning people realize what's at stake. The real risk is in years like 2016, when a lot of people have forgotten the nature of Republican rule and are simultaneously let down by Democrats who aren't passionately progressive (or who don't have much chance of getting truly progressive legislation past Republicans). In years like 2016, voters forget how jaw-droppingly extreme Republicans are. They forget how eager Republicans are to destroy the social safety net (and to lower taxes for the rich so that it will seem that the safety net can never be restored once it's slash). They forget how extreme Republicans are on abortion, the environment, climate change, the minimum wage, corporate money in politics, and a hundred other issues.

Instead, as Election Day approaches, the too-cool crowd picks a handful of issues on which there seems to be little or no difference between Democrats and Republicans and declares that nothing whatsoever about Republicans can possibly justify a vote for (sold-out!) Democrats because of those issues. Any other issues one might raise in response just don't matter.

But they do matter. We're finding that out now and we found that out after the 2000 election. Republicans are dangerous -- and the left-leaning media needs to count the ways, in every election cycle.


These are much worse numbers than the president has seen in a while:
President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions....

Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not.

... 63 percent of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, with 52 percent saying they support it strongly; 29 percent oppose the probe.

... While 78 percent of Republicans approve of his performance, 93 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents disapprove.
To me, that's the most striking number -- Trump is at only 73% approval within his party. We've all gotten used to saying that he has GOP base of 90% or so. Can this really be true?

The gap between Trump's 38% approval and 60% disapproval is 22%; he hasn't had a poll result that bad since February, and the vast majority of polls this year have shown him with an approval rating of 40% or higher (which wasn't true in 2017 -- the passage of the tax bill late in 2017 seemed to cause an enduring uptick in his numbers, probably not so much because the public likes the bill as because the GOP base saw the bill as proof that Trump is a winner).

This poll seems like an outlier -- recently, Trump's approval has been averaging in the low 40s and his disapproval in the low 50s. And note that the ABC/Post poll had very bad numbers for Trump the last time out -- 40%/56%, in April.

On the other hand, Trump has had a couple of other terrible polls recently -- 40%/56% from USA Today/Suffolk and 40%/57% from Reuters/Ipsos.

If his numbers really are going down -- we'll know for certain when we see more polls -- why is it happening? One suggestion I saw on Twitter was that Trump's treatment of John McCain is alienating voters. It's true that even Fox News seems to be siding with McCain, giving him respectful coverage.

But the tariffs can't be helping Trump in Middle America. The conviction of Paul Manafort and guilty plea by Michael Cohen might be having an effect. The mistreatment of immigrant families might have left a lingering mark, even as the story disappears from most mainstream news outlets. Also, I think campaign ads are reinforcing negative feelings about Trump. President Obama's numbers dipped into negative territory for the first time in the summer of 2010, according to the Real Clear Politics polling averages, and while he had good numbers throughout the 2012 general election campaign, he hit another bad patch in the summer and fall of 2014. I think campaign attacks make a difference, if only temporarily.

Other polls in the near future may not replicate these terrible numbers. I won't think Trump is in serious trouble unless they do, but this poll is enough to tell me he's in some trouble.


AND... here's a theory:

Could Giuliani be turning some people against Trump? He might be making the Mueller investigation look good by trash-talking it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


There's been a lot of attention paid to the tweet President Trump posted this morning in which he claimed that NBC doctored the video of the May 2017 interview in which he acknowledged to Lester Holt that he'd fired James Comey over the "Russia thing." While I like Yastreblyansky's theory that Trump is experiencing decompensation, remember that lying about words documented on video is nothing new for Trump: It was reported in 2017, during the Alabama Senate campaign in which Roy Moore was accused of pedophilia, that Trump had told acquaintances that the Access Hollywood tape was fake:
He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.)
I've looked at a lot of right-wing sites and none of them, not even the ones run by his most shameless sycophants (Infowars, Gateway Pundit,, are picking up on the current doctored-video allegation. Trump should really leave the disinformation to the pros, whose fake stories are much more elaborate and convoluted, and therefore persuasive to the rubes.

But here's another Trump tweet from this morning:

Is he worried about a book now? And if so, which one?

It could be Bob Woodward's Fear: Trump in the White House. It will arrive in stores in twelve days, on Tuesday, September 11. If the usual pattern with books of this kind is followed, that means that next week, possibly right after Labor Day, we'll start to see news stories and reviews (based on "leaked" copies of the book, which is officially embargoed until the publication date). Woodward traditionally appears on a Sunday prime-time newsmagazine just before his publication date, so that will be September 9. By that time, we'll know all the juicy bits.

A few weeks ago, when the book was announced, I predicted that it wouldn't do much damage to Trump -- which may be true. The leaked tales might not be particularly salacious or damaging. But by now Trump might know what's coming -- and he might have reason to be afraid. We'll see.


I'm underwhelmed by this big Washington Post story:
President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges.

Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands....

“Winter is coming,” said one Trump ally in close communication with the White House. “Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”
I seem to recall similar expressions of concern about Trump staffing choices two years ago:

I recall quite a few smug pronouncements in 2017 proclaiming that Trump wasn't doing nearly as much damage as feared because he hadn't properly staffed the White House and didn't understand what it took to get stuff done in Washington. (I wrote a few of those myself.) Funny, he seems to be doing quite a bit of damage to the country now.

If Trump survives to 2020 -- and I'm betting he will -- he'll do it the way he survives everything that's potentially damaging to him: by relying on demagoguery, skulduggery, the unswerving loyalty of GOP tribalists, and the work of a few underlings who actually are competent.

He won the election because he really did have the more sophisticated tech game (augmented, of course, by Facebook data his campaign shouldn't have been able to obtain). He had Wikileaks and the Russians. He had loyalists in the FBI who pressured James Comey to publicly redirect attention to Hillary Clinton's emails at the eleventh hour.

And, most important, he had his own highly developed rabble-rousing skills. The things that are supposed to matter in a campaign -- policy positions, debates, moral character -- meant nothing because of his ability to tap into conservative cultural and racial rage.

The next two years will probably be the same way. It's conceivable that Democratic success in the 2018 midterms will be so far above expectations that some congressional Republicans subsequently decide to abandon Trump -- however, expectations for the Democrats are now so high that Democrats probably can't top them by much. Therefore, Republican officeholders, including senators who'd have to vote to convict after an impeachment, are highly unlikely to reject Trump regardless of the evidence, because rank-and-file Republicans won't abandon him. Everything that demonstrates collusion, obstruction, or corruption will be explained away, and the base will unquestioningly buy all those explanations. We on the left will be concerned with the facts; Trump and his media enablers will be targeting their fans' reptile brains, and that's likely to make all the difference.

It's still worthwhile to lay out the case against Trump, because if we can't get an impeachment and conviction, or a resignation, we'll have demonstrated why Trump should be resoundingly rejected at the polls in 2020. Non-Republicans will get the point even if Republicans don't.

But in the meantime, Trump will probably survive, because he usually does. He'll distort the facts. He'll assassinate the characters of his accusers. He doesn't need lawyers to do that.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Yes, I'm going to talk about the dog whistle:
Rep. Ron DeSantis, the newly christened Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida, said Wednesday that voters would “monkey this up” if they elect his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who would be the state’s first African American governor.

During an interview on Fox News, DeSantis praised Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, as “an articulate spokesman” for those holding “far-left views,” but warned he would be damaging to the state.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said. “That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

His comments brought a swift rebuke from Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, who said they were racially tinged.
The comments have been condemned by many other people as well -- and that's the problem. Deploying racism this way is a work of evil genius. At a minimum, you get noticed by a lot of people in real time. But if your dog whistle is as outrageously obvious as this one, you're condemned by members of the other party, by media commentators, by critics on social media -- and all of that amplifies the dog whistle. It spreads your hate. (Regrettably, I'm spreading it now.)

In a better society, this would be a problem for the dog whistler -- but Republican voters fall into two categories now: (1) people who are racist and (2) people who aren't -- or don't think they are -- but believe that their tribe is being persecuted every time one of them is called a racist, no matter how strong the evidence.

For the latter group, elements of the right-wing media are already claiming persecution:

The Daily Wire story explains:
“So, we have to work hard to make sure we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let’s build off the success we’ve had with Governor Scott,” DeSantis said. “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” (Emphasis added.)

He wasn’t speaking specifically about Gillum, but the policies he and Sen. Bernie Sanders support.
Right -- it can't possibly be an attempt to link "Andrew Gillum" and "monkey" unless DeSantis literally says "Andrew Gillum is a monkey."

Even Fox News has asked one of its designated non-zealots to disclaim any endorsement of this (Shepherd Smith usually gets this gig):
“We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement,” Fox News anchor Sandra Smith said later on air.
But DeSantis's work is done -- he's now regarded by every GOP voter as either a fellow racist or a martyr to "political correctness run amok." He'll see an uptick in out-of-town campaign contributions. And no one who intended to vote for him before will reject him in disgust, because that just doesn't happen in America anymore.


I'm impressed by Andrew Gillum, who won an upset victory in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary yesterday, but he's going to be running in the general election as the living embodiment of everything Fox viewers fear:
Propelled by an endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders and financing from Tom Steyer, George Soros and Collective PAC, a group dedicated to electing African-Americans, the 39-year-old mayor surged at the end of the campaign....

In the final weeks of the election, Mr. Gillum aired an ad trumpeting his support for universal health care, legalizing marijuana and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He is also a vocal advocate of impeaching Mr. Trump.
Soros? Sanders? Steyer, the guy who's fixated on Trump's impeachment? And he wants to abolish ICE? And he's black? That's practically everything on the Fox viewer's hate list.

Also high on that list is gun control -- and on that subject Gillum is also every Fox viewer's nightmare:

Earlier this month, Gillum argued that "Stand Your Ground" should be suspended in Florida:
A fatal shooting in Clearwater last month revived the debate over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law after Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri cited the law as his reason for not charging the shooter, 48-year-old Michael Drejka.

Drejka, who is white, shot an unarmed black man, 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, in a confrontation over a disabled parking spot....

Tallahassee mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum has been one of the loudest supporters of the movement. Gillum has called upon Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency that would halt Stand Your Ground until the law can be reformed or repealed.
Last year, [Gillum] made headlines by defeating the National Rifle Association, which had sued the city over an ordinance that outlawed firearm use in public parks.

The victory, he wrote at the time, "means the next time (the NRA comes) after another community with a lawsuit, precedent will be on our side, and they'll have to think twice."
Gillum's Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, was on Laura Ingraham's Fox show last night and attacked Gillum's record on crime as Tallahassee mayor:
Tallahassee is one of, if not the most crime-ridden city in all of Florida, year after year, rising crime....
In fact, Tallahassee had a 14.3% drop in crime last year. Its rate is still high, however. Urban crime is another subject that gives Fox viewers the heebie-jeebies.

DeSantis also said:
He wants to abolish I.C.E., he wants a billion dollar tax increase, he wants a single-payer health care system in Florida, which would bankrupt the state. I'm trying to make Florida even better, he wants to make Florida Venezuela.
So the Republican campaign against Gillum will be a distillation of every Fox News evening of prime time ever.

Can Gillum win? The last DeSantis-Gillum poll showed the Democrat trailing by 3. I'd say that means he can win -- though doing it will require him to neutralize the propaganda that's most trusted by old white voters, in a state that's full of them. If he pulls this off, I'll be very impressed.


Oops, almost forgot to mention one other prominent supporter, while I'm on the subject of inducers of right-wing nightmares:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


On Monday morning I predicted that Chuck Schumer's proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building in honor of John McCain might be blocked by Republicans -- and I hedged because I thought perhaps I was being too cynical about Republicans. This would just be a symbolic act, right? Wasn't it possible that Senate Republicans ignore their voter base's negative opinion of McCain and do him a solid, given the fact that he was a member of their own party? Sure, the GOP is a party of white racism, but the guy whose name would be removed was a (segregationist) Democrat, so why not make the switch?

I should have been more cynical. We don't know this officially, but it's clear that the renaming isn't going to happen:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, on Tuesday delayed efforts to rename the Russell Senate Office in honor of Sen. John McCain by creating an official group to vet a variety of memorial options.
That's the time-honored way of burying any proposal in Washington: You create a commission and wait until the momentum for change goes away.
"I'd like to put together an official group that can collaborate and bring together ideas from current members, former colleagues, and friends," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "It will be bipartisan — as only befits John's legacy. And come to think of it, we should probably call it not a committee, but a 'gang.' So I'm glad we'll be able to form this gang to ensure that a suitable, lasting tribute becomes a reality."
McConnell's use of the word "gang" is a tell. He's dog-whistling to conservative xenophobes, who hear "gang" in connection with McCain and think "of eight" -- a phrase that makes their blood boil. They hated the Gang of Eight, whose immigration reform bill they believe would have turned this country into a brown-skinned Third World hellhole.
Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue told reporters that Schumer jumping forward to offer one suggestion could be viewed as a political play.

"I think we need to take a deep breath and do these ceremonies this week in a manner that will respect his legacy and his life," Perdue said. "Then I think we need to take a deep breath and find the right way to honor him publicly and permanently. Rushing to judgment and making it political or whatever is not the appropriate thing."

Perdue's Georgia colleague, Sen. Johnny Isakson, refused to discuss the possibility of renaming the building, saying he did not want to inject politics into a week meant to honor McCain.
Dudes, I know you're racists, but these days don't you at least pretend that you think segregation was bad and the civil rights movement was a good thing? Even the Trump White House pays lip service to this viewpoint -- today it issued a proclamation commemorating the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Being in favor of integration and racial equality isn't supposed to be "political" anymore.

So McConnell invokes immigrants, while Perdue and Isakson say we're still having a political debate over whether black people are citizens. Anyone else want to weigh in? Ma'am, I see you're wagging your finger in a scolding manner:
Others, like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Schumer didn't discuss the idea with other senators before making the announcement.

"It's my understanding that Sen. Schumer announced it without even talking to a single Republican," Collins said.
How dare Chuck Schumer propose to dishonor a fellow Democrat and honor a Republican without talking to a single Republican!

They're all afraid. They really do believe that they'll be primaried as open-borders n****r-lovers if they sign on to this proposal.

It won't happen.


So this is today's Trump-generated hysteria:
President Trump tweeted this morning that Big Tech platforms, specifically Google, are suppressing conservative voices and news, while Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow later added that the administration is "taking a look" at whether Google searches should be regulated....

This morning's Google-aimed tirade appears to stem from a PJ Media article titled, "96 Percent of Google Search Results for 'Trump' News Are from Liberal Media Outlets," which was covered last night by Fox Business' Lou Dobbs.

"In a test that she admitted was "not scientific," PJ Media editor Paula Bolyward Googled the word "Trump" and classified each result based on a media chart compiled by right-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group anchor Sharyl Atkisson.

She found that out of the top 100 search results, only five were by media outlets considered conservative — Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. CNN, WaPo, and
NBC appeared most frequently in the top 100, prompting Bolyard to conclude there is a "blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets."

"PJ Media did not appear in the first 100 results, nor did National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Hot Air, Townhall, [or] Red State."
You remember Sharyl Attkisson, the right-wing journalist who famously, during the Obama years, released a video of her computer allegedly being hacked in real time by government agents, purportedly in response to her Benghazi reporting. (The video actually revealed that Attkisson's laptop had a stuck delete key.) Attkisson has also published reports alleging a link between vaccines and autism.

Her media chart is ridiculous (click to enlarge):

CNBC and Fortune are left-leaning? Also Politico, The Hill, PolitiFact, Variety, and U.S. News? Sorry, this can't be taken seriously.

But beyond that, let's look at the list of top sources Bolyard found when she Googled Trump:

Do you know why CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times are on the list? Because they have broad audiences -- and because they specialize in news. There's a lot of opinion at the Times, the Post, and CNN, but they're news organizations. They do reporting.

PJ Media? National Review? Townhall? RedState? They specialize in opinion. Many people want opinion -- from both the mainstream ("left-leaning") and right-wing sites -- but many more people just want the news. That's why most of the top choices made the list. (NBC is up there because its site includes some serious reporting. Politico does serious reporting of inside-the-Beltway news. CNBC does the same with business news.)

The mainstream media is "liberal" in large part because the right-wing press doesn't bother to do real reporting. Even stories embarrassing to Democrats -- for instance, the revelation of former New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman's alleged sexual assaults -- is broken by "liberal" media outlets. Hell, it was the "liberal" media that broke the original #MeToo story, about Harvey Weinstein. The guy was a top Democratic donor! Why didn't a right-wing news outlet get the story?

Because reporting is a secondary concern at right-wing news outlets. You can get news from Fox News, but Fox specializes in pro-GOP, pro-Trump opinion and anti-liberal, anti-Democratic scandalmongering.

The only exception to this rule is The Wall Street Journal -- but nearly every Journal article is behind a paywall, so why should Google send readers to Journal stories?

Please note that MSNBC isn't on the list, either. Lots of people are watching MSNBC these days -- but the site isn't where a wide range of people go to get straight news. (That shows up at

Want to dominate news search results, righties? Do real reporting on real news.


I've questioned whether Donald Trump has the will and the discipline to be a pure authoritarian, but democracy can suffer serious damage in regimes, like Hungary's, that remain nominally democratic. I agree with Paul Krugman that America is trending in that direction -- not just because of Trump, but because of the contempt for democracy his party has expressed since long before Trump became a politician.
Just look at what has been happening at the state level.

In North Carolina, after a Democrat won the governorship, Republicans used the incumbent’s final days to pass legislation stripping the governor’s office of much of its power.

In Georgia, Republicans tried to use transparently phony concerns about access for disabled voters to close most of the polling places in a mainly black district.

In West Virginia, Republican legislators exploited complaints about excessive spending to impeach the entire State Supreme Court and replace it with party loyalists.

And these are just the cases that have received national attention. There are surely scores if not hundreds of similar stories across the nation. What all of them reflect is the reality that the modern G.O.P. feels no allegiance to democratic ideals; it will do whatever it thinks it can get away with to entrench its power.
As The Nation's Ari Berman noted in 2016, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act led to the closure of 868 polling places across the South and Southwest before the last presidential election; as The New York Times reminds us today, the GOP-led redistricting in North Carolina after the 2010 census gave the state ten Republican House seats and only three Democratic seats -- and Republicans wished they could have gone for an even greater imbalance:
The 2011 map had turned a 7-to-6 Democratic edge in the state’s House delegation to a 9-to-4 Republican one. The redrawn map in 2016 — the one at issue now — produced a 10-to-3 ratio ... the legislature explicitly said that it had been drawn ... to hurt Democrats.

“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” David R. Lewis, a North Carolina state representative who helped lead the remapping, said in 2016.
Republicans have targeted democracy since the Bush years, when U.S. attorneys were fired for not paying adequate attention to (nearly nonexistent) voter fraud. And here's the thing: There is literally no Republican or right-wing opposition to this. There are plenty of high-profile anti-Trump Republicans, even though they have no influence on the party. But there is no anti-democracy-suppression movement on the right. I can't even name any individuals on the right who object.

There's been a lot of attention paid to anti-free-speech illiberalism on the left. Over the weekend I caught a bit of David Remnick's interview of David Simon, creator of The Wire and a (mostly) left-leaning Trump foe. But Simon said this in the interview:
I got no patience for anything that interrupts the idea of open speech. I find what's going on on college campuses to be incredibly naive, almost childlike. I'm very disappointed in it. You know, I think dissent, open dissent, requires speech in order to survive, particularly in a time of an authoritarian government, and the idea that you would trade that away over some schnook that's saying some stupid stuff in a Berkeley lecture hall is embarrassing to me. It's like, you would trade this weapon for that? That's not even tactical. So there are moments where I just walk -- I listen to the left and I walk away and I say, "Man, you know, you never fought the way it has to be fought in your life, and that's why you just came up with that answer."
This is an accurate characterization of a certain percentage of left-wingers. But the entire right is illiberal on democracy -- no conservative, as far as I know, will defend the right to vote or denounce the promulgation of the conspiracy that there's widespread Democratic voter fraud. Compared to that, a few people heckling Charles Murray or Milo Yiannopoulos on an elite campus is a much smaller threat to our way of life.

Monday, August 27, 2018


Under pressure, the president backed down:
President Trump on Monday ordered the American flag to be flown at half-staff this week in honor of Sen. John McCain after intense criticism of his response to the Arizona Republican’s death.

The announcement came after the flag atop the White House was raised to full-staff earlier in the day, less than 48 hours after McCain’s family announced that the six-term senator had died Saturday at his home in Sedona, Ariz.

“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump does sometimes reverse course in response to intense criticism, but his course doesn't always stay reversed. Remember this reversal in July?
Blistered by bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, President Donald Trump on Tuesday backed away from his public undermining of American intelligence agencies, saying he simply misspoke when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election....

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia’” instead of “why it would,” Trump said of the comments he had made standing alongside Vladimir Putin on Monday’s summit stage in Helsinki.
A few days later, Trump reversed himself again:
After a week of tortuous statements, walk-backs and clarifications on whether he thinks the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump appeared to have come full circle on Sunday night, dismissing the issue as "all a big hoax."

In an evening tweet shortly after taking off for Washington following a weekend spent at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump questioned why President Barack Obama did not inform his campaign or the public about alleged Russian interference before Election Day.

"So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election," Trump said. "Why didn't he do something about it? Why didn't he tell our campaign?"

Trump then went on to answer his own questions: "Because it is all a big hoax, that's why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!"
Maybe it won't happen, but I could easily see Trump telling his staff to "raise the fucking flag" one day between now and McCain's interment, just because McCain will be receiving laudatory news coverage all week and Trump won't. (If there's an outcry again, the White House will claim it was a mistake made by a low-lever staffer.)

I realize that this isn't as visceral an issue for Trump as Russia. Still, I think it's quite possible he'll go back on his word, because he's a sullen brat, and he doesn't like being compelled to do anything he doesn't want to do.


There's fine reporting and writing in The New York Times. Then there's this -- a piece on Duncan Hunter that's meant to be read as a straight news story, but that acts largely as a brief for his defense.

Like good defense attorneys, Times writers Tim Arango, Adam Nagourney, and Jose Del Real acknowledge what can't be denied -- that Hunter dipped into campaign funds to pay personal expenses; that some of those expenses went beyond basic food, clothing, and shelter for him and his family; and that Hunter disguised spending on himself as spending for charities, especially military charities. But the facts are embedded in a story that offers multiple reasons why we should pity rather than censure Hunter.

(1) He was a decent guy corrupted by Washington.
In Alpine, Calif., a suburban Southern California enclave, Duncan Hunter was a good neighbor. He’d help people do yard work, or move heavy furniture. He drove the same dented-up truck for years. At parties, he’d have a beer, two tops, and he might go off and sneak a cigarette so his wife wouldn’t see. He rarely talked about his job as a congressman.

In Washington, Mr. Hunter was a fixture on the bar scene, and spent lavishly — over $400 for 30 tequila shots at a bachelor party, and countless fancy dinners. He visited one of his favorite bars sometimes multiple times a day, piling up thousands of dollars in tabs.
He would have been an upstanding citizen if that sinkhole of corruption hadn't gotten to him, Arango et al. seem to say.

(2) He was living a life that was forced on him, a life he never wanted.
Mr. Hunter, 41, once boasted a glittering political résumé that touched all the right notes in his conservative district: war hero, father to three young children, scion of a political dynasty in Southern California, where his father held power for almost 30 years....

For all his apparent appeal as a congressman, the unspooling of Mr. Hunter’s life has laid bare the reservations among associates and friends who long wondered whether politics was a career path he had ever wanted to fulfill.
Hunter is 41 years old. He's running for his sixth term in the House. A younger man might have felt pressure to take the seat his father held. But what prevented Hunter from quitting -- with all the opportunities a Republican ex-congressman has for cashing in -- if he didn't like the life?

(3) It's hard out here for a congressman.
While Mr. Hunter was in Washington, his wife, Margaret, mostly stayed in California, where she managed the campaign’s finances and struggled to keep up appearances with things like private school tuition, all on a $174,000-a-year congressman’s salary....
This is classic Times: Feel the pain of people struggling on six-figure incomes! And see (2) above -- if money was so tight, why not move to a cushy job in the private sector?

(4) It's not as if the Hunters were living it up.
The expenses outlined in the indictment were often quotidian — not the luxurious things that often produce titillating political corruption scandals. There was no $15,000 ostrich jacket, no antique rugs or a mansion in the Hamptons, to mention some of the more headline-grabbing expenses that enlivened the recent corruption trial of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman. For the Hunters, it was often everyday expenses: the cable bill, the dentist, prescription medication, fast food restaurants like In-N-Out, trips to Walmart.

In one sense, the Hunters’ story is one of financial woe not unlike that faced by countless American families struggling to pay the basics.
"The basics"? So what about the $400 bar tab and "countless fancy dinners" mentioned in the opening paragraphs? And what about the other expenses, some of which are noted here, but more of which enumerated in this L.A. Times story?
They dropped more than $14,000 on a family vacation in Italy.... Over the years, prosecutors allege, Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, picked up ... a $250 airplane ride for the family rabbit....

“Our treat,” Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife told their friends when they picked up the $1,164 tab at the Montage resort in Laguna Beach for food and drinks....

It was more than $1,300 in video game purchases that first drew the newspaper’s attention....

They spent $2,000 to send a family member to a Pittsburgh Steelers game for a birthday celebration.
(5) Oh, did we mention diminished capacity?
Mr. Hunter has been a regular at a number of bars near Capitol Hill, from the private Capitol Club to the congressional watering hole, Bullfeathers, just next door. There, the congressman could often be found on the patio with colleagues, drinking beer or vodka.

“He was here a lot, some days he was in here multiple times a day,” said Stephanie Connon, a manager at the bar.

Amid the allegations, associates in Washington have raised questions about whether Mr. Hunter was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When asked about this earlier this year by a television station in San Diego, Mr. Hunter said, “I did three tours. I take my experiences with me, but I never filed for post-traumatic stress. It’s not an issue.”

Ammar Campa-Najjar, Mr. Hunter’s challenger in November, told Fox News after the indictment was issued, “I think that man who served our country never made it back from the battlefield, and I think Washington chewed him up and spat him out and he lost his way.”
Well, even his opponent is giving him that out.

I'm sure Hunter will be found not guilty with the help of defense counsel that makes one or several of these arguments. Hunter's defense may also echo his own claim of a "deep state" conspiracy to destroy him. At least the Times story doesn't give credence to that argument. But the paper seems to have carefully laid out every other line of defense.


Chuck Schumer wants to honor John McCain:
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, says he'll introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington for Sen. John McCain....

At a press conference in New York on Sunday, Schumer added that he "always felt that we could more appropriately name the Richard Russell Office building and John McCain was the perfect person for that." He said that McCain was an "antidote when he saw bigotry" and "put a dagger through its heart."

The building is currently named Sen. Richard Brevard Russell Jr., a Democrat from Georgia who served from 1933 to 1971....

Russell, however, was as a leader of Southern opposition to the civil rights movement and an ardent supporter of segregation for decades. Russell often used parliamentary maneuvers to scuttle civil rights legislation like bills banning lynching and abolishing the poll tax, his Senate biography notes.
No comment so far from Dinesh D'Souza, whose well-remunerated trolling career is focused these days on arguing that Democrats remain the party of segregation and racism. I'm not sure how D'Souza would explain a proposal from a Democrat to strip a Democratic segregationist of this honor.

We're told the proposal has bipartisan support, though McCain's fellow Arizonan Jeff Flake, who's retiring, seems to be the only Republican who's publicly backed it. Mitch McConnell hasn't been heard from.

Talking Points Memo tells us that "it would be up to the Senate itself — without any input from the President, who made the late Arizona senator one of his more prominent foils — to decide on a re-naming." Would senators hesitate? According to a recent Fox poll, only 41% of rank-and-file Republicans have a favorable opinion of McCain (among Democrats, the number is 60%). And, of course, Republican voters loathe Schumer. Could you get primaried if you're a Republican and you vote for this? I'm guessing that the GOP voter base isn't quite that rabid -- but if the proposal stalls, I won't be surprised.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, PoliticusUSA, and other left-leaning sites are gleefully quoting this story from Axios's Jonathan Swan:
Congressional Republicans are getting ready for hell. Axios has obtained a spreadsheet that's circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill — including at least one leadership office — that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House.

... Here are some of the probes it predicts:
* President Trump’s tax returns

* Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization

* Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin

* The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels

* James Comey's firing

* Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys

* Trump's proposed transgender ban for the military

* Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's business dealings

* White House staff's personal email use....
The list goes on. Swan adds,
Lawyers close to the White House tell me the Trump administration is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.
I'd like to savor the schadenfreude, but this isn't really a scoop, as Swan claims. He's not exposing a secret that Republicans tried to conceal. Republicans wanted him to publish this story. This is a GOP campaign ad and fund-raising pitch.

It's an extension of a central Republican message for the midterms: If the Democrats take the House, impeachment is inevitable. Headline at Breitbart last week: "Republicans Find Midterm Message: Vote GOP, or Democrats Impeach Trump." Headline last week at FiveThirtyEight: "Republicans Are Talking About Impeachment Way More Than Democrats." Rudy Giuliani recently said, “This election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment.” Steve Bannon said, “This is a referendum on Trump, up-or-down vote on impeachment. This other side, they’re very motivated – and they’re motivated for one thing: they want to impeach Donald Trump.”

Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats downplay impeachment. So the next-direst warning to GOP voters is: Democrats might not immediately move to impeach Trump, but they're going to investigate the bejeezus out of him -- unless you give, and unless you vote.

Even the bit about Trump being unprepared is part of the message. Trump, to the GOP faithful, is an innocent outsider, unschooled in the sinister ways of Washington. He has no idea what tortures the enemy has in store for him -- unless the voters save him.

I hope Republicans are genuinely afraid. But I know what they're doing here, and it's not (or not merely) bewailing their fate.


The New York Times reports:
Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday at age 81, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda and receive a full dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.

Mr. McCain ... will also lie in state at the Arizona Capitol before his burial in Annapolis, Md., a Republican official involved in the planning said.

The senator’s office said an official memorial schedule would be announced once funeral arrangements were finalized.

Two Republicans familiar with the planning said that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been asked to offer eulogies at his funeral. Under initial plans for Mr. McCain’s funeral, Vice President Mike Pence was to attend, but not President Trump, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. McCain.
The president has been unusually quiet since John McCain died -- one surprisingly measured tweet, which he clearly didn't write (there are no extraneous capital letters, although Trump probably insisted on adding the exclamation point)...

... as well as this:

But the attention to McCain's death is going to make Trump crazy. Just as the Capitol Rotunda is opened for McCain's mourners, I expect a huge newsmaking tweetstorm from Trump, or some headline-grabbing executive action. (Maybe he'll fire Jeff Sessions. Maybe he'll just pull the security clearances of a few more prominent critics and Obama-era ex-officials.) I don't think he'll be able to tolerate ceding the spotlight to his mortal enemy.


I have mixed feelings about McCain. There was a lot of talk about "character" during the 2008 campaign, and I agreed that McCain's endurance through years of captivity revealed an inner strength. But I've never believed that it was the kind of "character" that would have made him a suitable president. Years ago I read Robert Timberg's book The Nightingale's Song, which helped create the McCain myth. In Timberg's telling, McCain was an immature troublemaker at Annapolis. After that, he was a troublemaker in the Hanoi Hilton -- he was frequently insubordinate with guards, even though he was brutally punished for what he did.

I think that was character -- he survived in large part because he was a wise-ass, because he was inclined to make trouble and willing to take punishment. It's interesting to me that another well-known survivor of brutality in a POW camp -- Louis Zamperini, who endured similar mistreatment at the hands of Japanese captors in World War II, an ordeal recounted in the book and film Unbroken -- was also a youthful troublemaker.

In hellscapes like those, the inclination to be an insubordinate sonofabitch was an inner reserve of strength -- use what you've got, I say, and McCain and Zamperini did.

But I never thought McCain had a presidential temperament -- what was "character" in one context really wouldn't have been in the Oval Office (though he'd have been nothing like Donald Trump, the worst person elected to any office in our lifetimes). It was McCain the troublemaker who picked Sarah Palin as a running mate -- that wasn't presidential. I didn't trust the McCain who sang "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." I'm glad he lost.

(I'm also glad he lost because he was, in most things, a down-the-line Republican, which meant he backed bad policies in a non-mavericky way.)

But I can see that he must have been personally likable in a way Donald Trump will never be, even though Trump labors at it. McCain liked being liked for being a rulebreaker, as troublemakers often do; he seduced the press that way. But he also seemed to like the people whose company he craved a lot more than Trump does. McCain's conviviality was good branding, but it seemed genuine -- and even though I hated the way McCain used that as a smokescreen for bad policies, I can see the appeal of his personality in a political world now dominated by lean and hungry (or not so lean and hungry) haters: Trump, Stephen Miller, Betsy DeVos, Tom Cotton, Ryan Zinke, Kris Kobach....

So I think McCain deserves a lot of the criticism he's received, even in death -- but the space he's left is quite likely to be filled by far worse people.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


A couple of hours ago, I saw this on the front page of the New York Times website:

To make an obvious point: That's not an opinion. It's a fact.

Kashana Cauley's op-ed does enter the realm of opinion -- she wants us to recognize the demonstrations as part of a long history of black protest in search of equal justice, and she also wants us to stop referring to them as "anthem protests."
A number of news organizations have mischaracterized the protests as “anthem protests,” and President Trump has gone further, saying they just “wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.” He keeps coming back to this issue over and over.

Most of those players are black men. They have lived with the reality of police brutality their whole lives. This slander is an insult to them. But even if everyone who frames the kneeling as “anthem protests” is unintentionally making a mistake, it’s a harmful one.
I wouldn't characterize the phrase "anthem protests" as a mistake or a deliberate mischaracterization -- syntactically, it's not very different from "lunch counter protests," a phrase you'll find used in reference to civil rights era sit-ins even in the black press.

No one hears "lunch counter protests" and believes that the demonstrators were protesting the existence of the lunch counters. But many people seem to believe that the NFL protesters are demonstrating against the national anthem.

Because that's the case, I agree with Cauley that the phrase should be avoided. I think news organizations should consider banning it, the way, for instance, AP's stylebook bans "pro-life" and "pro-abortion." (AP writers are told to use "anti-abortion" and "pro-abortion rights" instead.)

But why is "anthem protests" misleading when "lunch counter protests" isn't? I think it's because much of white America doesn't acknowledge the existence of the injustice being protested.

Many -- most? -- white Americans don't pay attention to stories of police brutality, or don't believe them, or believe every story is an isolated incident, or believe that the police treat white people just as badly, or believe that all the violence is a justifiable response to people who don't show police "the proper respect," or believe that the police are categorically justified in mistreating African-Americans because African-Americans are a criminal class. (Recall the recent incident in which a white man told the cops who were arresting him, "You're treating me like a fucking black person!")

So of course many whites believe the people who tell them that the players' intent is to show disrespect for the flag, or for the troops (even when there are no troops at the stadium), or for America, or for the anthem itself.

I think much of white America will never understand the point of these protests -- which makes me wonder whether they've outlived their usefulness. But avoiding the use of the phrase "anthem protests" might lead to a some greater degree of comprehension.

Friday, August 24, 2018


John McCain has ended medical treatment for his brain cancer. He'll be mourned by many -- but, apparently, not by members of his own party, to judge from this June CBS poll:
In the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll ... GOP Sen. John McCain gets his highest favorable rating from Arizona Democrats of all partisan groups -- 62 percent view him favorably. It's voters in his own party who give McCain his most negative ratings -- nearly 7 in 10 view him [un]favorably.

If he'd been healthy and wanted to run in 2020 2022, I think he would have been primaried and defeated. He probably would have had to retire, like Jeff Flake, in order to avoid that fate.

Note the running joke in this Free Republic thread:
Bladder is getting pretty full. May have to reload for the post interment ceremonies.




If it’s an open casket I know when my next big fart is going
This man has stood in the way of our Constitution and our president for too long by delaying his retirement and purposely trying to manipulate the choice of a successor, something Rod Blagojevich is doing time for. He threw his campaign for president into the hands of the Usurper's cabal by ego-tripping and suspending his campaign. His people savaged Sarah Palin. He baited-and-switched Arizona voters and the American people over border control. Like his friends the Senate Democrats, George Soros and the mainstream media, he has for many years espoused opposite sides of many issues, depending on who is president. If you want us to respect your sentimentality over impending death, which to a Christian should be a moment of rejoicing, kindly extend our well-earned resentments a little respect as well.


My mom told me to never speak ill of the dying.
But I always ignore her. Die, painfully, you globalist anti-American vapid uber-vain creepy petty grudge-holding evil ISIS-backing warmongering piece of s***.


Good for him, but I’m sorry to see he won’t prolong his suffering. Good riddance a$$hole.

There are Democrats at whose deaths I won't shed many tears -- Joe Lieberman comes to mind -- but I won't feel like this. If you wonder how Donald Trump could possibly have been elected, trust me -- I'm a longtime lurker at sites like Free Republic, and the right-wing rank-and-file has been cultivating this level of vitriol for years, even toward less-than-pure Republicans. In retrospect, the decision to choose Trump seems inevitable.


No Donald Trump transgression will ever offend Republican voters enough to make them abandon him in significant numbers. One thing can cost Trump the base's support: the belief that he is no longer Owning the Libs.

Tucker Carlson recognizes the risk to Trump, so this is what he said on Fox last night:
Tucker Carlson said Thursday that an exceptional phenomenon has taken over American politics, and President Donald Trump appears to be the subject of it.

Carlson said that the left currently has "one thing on its mind: impeachment."

He played video of several of the 222 times the term was mentioned on cable news yesterday.

Carlson said Trump is accused of such for the "high crime of being shaken down in an extortion scheme by a porn star girlfriend."

He said that story is just one example of the phenomenon he recognized:

"If the left exists only to oppose anything that Trump does or says, then isn't Trump in control of the left's message?" he asked.
That's the key to Trump's appeal: He's in control of the left (which, for right-wingers, includes the media, the Justice Department, and even parts of the Republican Party). Once Trump no longer appears to be in control, he's vulnerable. The deplorables might abandon him then.

Consider the case of Sarah Palin. She was a Republican favorite throughout the fall of 2008, and for quite a while after that. The rest of America mocked her, but conservatives were persuaded that she struck terror in our hearts. (American Thinker headline from late 2009: "Why the Left Fears Sarah.")

But she couldn't sustain it. There were too many embarrassing personal and family stories, and too many bad choices (quitting as governor of Alaska, backing fringe candidates like Delaware's Christine O'Donnell, and generally opting for quick bucks rather than political influence). Tina Fey's version of Palin on Saturday Night Live had more popular impact than Palin herself. Then, in 2011, Palin's SarahPAC produced a map that placed the districts of targeted House Democrats in crosshairs, including that of Gabby Giffords. Giffords was then shot by a would-be assassin. After the subsequent firestorm, it was clear even to right-wingers that Palin had lost control of her own narrative. Even right-wingers could no longer plausibly claim that she Owned the Libs. A few months later, polling showed that a majority of Republicans didn't want Palin to run for president in 2012.

That's the risk for Trump. He hasn't controlled the narrative this week, and even the base might be starting to take notice. Carlson's monologue was meant to tell the residents of Oz that the Wizard is still very much in control of his magic.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


You libtards think the real scandals involve Donald Trump and his inner circle, but according to the Washington Examiner's Steven Nelson, here's what you should be asking:
Does Hillary Clinton have a security clearance? Those who know won't say

President Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan last week after ordering a review of nine people — one current and eight former officials — who he considers political adversaries.

One name not on the publicly announced list: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton....

Many former officials retain security clearances, but the status of Clinton's clearance is not publicly known....

The State Department told the Washington Examiner that it could not release information about Clinton's clearance, citing her privacy....

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton ... said his staff filed a Freedom of Information Act request this week for the information.
Elsewhere, the right-wing site DC Whispers tells us that Michael Cohen is a Clinton operative:
How The Clintons Directed Michael Cohen To Plead Guilty & Implicate President Trump

Weeks earlier D.C. Whispers warned readers of Lanny Davis’s sudden appearance at the side of former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen. Mr. Davis is a longtime Clinton operative and as recently as 2016 was helping to manage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. His longstanding ties to the Clintons affords him strong ties with both the Democrat and Republican establishments, vast D.C. lobbying powers, and media moguls. In short, he is as Deep State as Deep State gets.

Now he’s using Michael Cohen to add manufactured fuel to the “get President Trump” fire as the Clintons sit back and watch and wait...

Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, both longtime Deep State operatives, push for an investigation into Michael Cohen. Raids on Cohen’s homes and offices follow. Charges are manufactured. Cohen is isolated, afraid, and eventually, all too willing to do whatever necessary to save himself.

Once again, enter Lanny Davis who takes Cohen by the hand and leads him to a “say anything” plea deal with wording scripted by Clinton and Obama-appointed prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The prosecutor leading the case against Cohen is Robert S. Khuzami whose ties with the Clintons date back to the 1990’s....

Now the Mueller investigation is said to be working furiously to use the plea deal script that was manufactured by Clinton operative Lanny Davis to further implicate President Trump.
And Ann Coulter is about to publish a book blaming the very existence of the Russia investigation on Hillary:
If you’ve ever wondered how Russia became America’s most fearsome enemy, ... the answer is: This crackpot idea came from the same woman who blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy” for Monica Lewinsky.

The Russia conspiracy is classic Hillary, as detailed in my new book, Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind. Throughout her long and blemished public career, Hillary has always blamed her troubles on bad people conspiring against her.

... When the Democratic National Committee’s emails popped up on Wikileaks in July 2016, embarrassing her campaign and enraging Democrats, ... Russia had to become the next Linda Tripp, a mysterious enemy undermining our heroine.

Hillary’s campaign manager Robby Mook launched the Russia conspiracy theory on the eve of the Democratic National Convention on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” ...

Russian scholars and cyber-security experts dismissed the harebrained claim....

The entire Russian collusion gag was invented to assuage the potty pantsuit’s embarrassment at having lost a second election that was fixed for her to win.
Everything is the Clintons' fault. Everything is always the Clintons' fault.


The president informs us that he's done such a good job as president that it would be foolishness to impeach him, and Sebastian Gorka -- sorry, Dr. Sebastian Gorka -- concurs:

Meanwhile, Salena Zito travels to Zanesville, Ohio, and quotes an unnamed "woman in her mid-40s" who enthusiastically supports Trump "despite his morals, values and behavior not matching hers nor matching her expectations she had for any president of the United States."
She cannot abide anything he tweets, finds his speeches a stream of consciousness that is hard to unscramble and considers his morals in the gutter. She reluctantly voted for him and knows she will vote for him again, something she admits even surprises her.

Why does he hold her support?

He delivers results.

“It’s just that simple.”

She mentions the tax reform bill, the remaking of the judiciary, how he has repealed regulations that have improved the economic conditions in the state, both of his picks for the Supreme Court and his unflinching manner in taking on the establishment wings of both political parties as her reasons.
That's the emerging Republican message: IWe mustn't hold Trump to account for anything terrible he's ever done because his presidency is just too amazing. We can't even trust Mike Pence to do more or less exactly what Trump does (albeit with less drama) because Trump just provides that extra added awesome sauce.

This will be a variation on Trump's contention that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes: We could deprive Trump of his job or send him to prison for collusion/obstruction of justice/financial crimes/whatever, but shouldn't he be exempted from all laws because he's the best president ever?


This seems likes nothing more than standard-issue Trump bragging:
President Trump, in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt, warned that the “market would crash” if he's ever impeached....

“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job,” Trump said, in the interview which aired Thursday on "Fox & Friends."

... he warned, “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see—you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse.”
Make note of this, because an economic downturn is coming. It's not clear when it will arrive or how severe it will be. But by some measures we're in the longest bull market on record. (It started in March 2009, shortly after Barack Obama's inaugural.) It can't last forever. The stock market's gains haven't trickled down to many ordinary Americans, but they'll suffer even more when the downturn comes.

If there's a shocking revelation next Monday, Trump resigns by the end of the week, Mike Pence takes over as president, and the downturn arrives a year or eighteen months from now, it will be said that Democrats and other Trump enemies were at fault because they forced Trump out of office when he had the economy running like a brand-new Ferrari. If the downturn comes a year from now and Trump is still in office and preparing to run for reelection, the blame will fall on Trump's Democratic and "Deep State" enemies because they forced him to take his eye off the ball with their phony witch hunt. Place the start of the recession at any point in the near future, add in any Trump scenario, from impeachment to landslide reelection victory, and Trump's enemies will get the blame, because he should have been allowed to work his billionaire magic unchecked by criticism or oversight.

We won't just hear this from the White House, or from rabid supporters in the right-wing media and the deplorable community. We'll hear it from top Republican officeholders and from "respectable" conservative commentators. Eventually, the non-conservative press will conclude that the argument has to be taken seriously.

Democrats, of course, may well control the House of Representatives by the time the recession hits. So of course the downturn will be their fault.

Trump's investigators and opponents should still keep doing exactly what they're doing -- but we should all be ready for this.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


The New York Times says that Orrin Hatch, like most Republicans in Congress, is unfazed by Donald Trump's conduct. Hatch says that, given Trump's place of origin, it's clear that he just can't help himself, or at least he couldn't until recently:
“Eight years ago to 10 years ago, Trump was not what I consider to be a pillar of virtue,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican member of the Senate. “I think he has changed a lot of his life once he was elected. I think Trump is a much better person today than he was then.”

Mr. Hatch continued: “I think most people in this country realize that Donald Trump comes from a different world. He comes from New York City, he comes from a slam-bang, difficult world. It is amazing he is as good as he is....”
I've been in New York City for more than forty years and, apart from an unremarkable period of controlled-substance use in my youth, I've never committed a crime. But now I learn from Senator Hatch that my fellow New Yorkers and I can't help but commit crimes, or at least can't help but engage in morally reprehensible behavior. It's not our fault! We live in a slam-bang world!

I think I'm going to start committing crimes now. If I get caught, I plan to call Senator Hatch as a character witness.


As I predicted:
Authorities in Iowa filed charges against an undocumented immigrant in connection with a recovered body believed to be that of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared from her home a month ago.

The state of play: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich emailed Axios' Mike Allen to make sure that we'd be covering this story, which Fox News led with on air and online Tuesday evening, ahead of the Cohen-Manafort news. His take: "If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble. If we can be blocked by Manafort-Cohen, etc., then GOP could lose [the House] badly."

"We are living in two alternative political universes. In one, Manafort-Cohen is dispositive. In the other, illegal immigrants killing Mollie Tibbetts is dispositive."
And it's not just Gingrich. There's also this racist Facebook rant from the Daily Caller's Benny Johnson:
Mollie went for a run on one of those sleepy Iowa farm roads I grew up on. She was abducted, murdered & had her body dumped in a ditch by a third-world monster who should have never been within a thousand miles of Mollie. This human garbage had spent six years (!) in our country illegally being shielded, protected & humanized at every turn by the policies of national Democrats. This bastard crossed our borders illegally and even though he does not share our culture, worldview or value system he was allowed to stay long enough to murder an American in the prime of her life & leave her body in the dirt for 34 days.

How is it possible that the sub-human horror of the third-world can find its way to the peaceful farm communities of my upbringing?

It bears repeating: Democrats & open-borders advocates have the blood of Mollie Tibbetts on their hands. The disgraceful policies of sanctuary cities, catch-and-release & open borders have led to American bloodshed.
The Des Moines Register reports that the man in custody, Cristhian Rivera, worked for four years at a farm owned by the brother of a prominent Iowa Republican. But apart from that, in what way is this a "third-world" crime? What evidence is there that Rivera "does not share our culture, worldview or value system"?

Two days ago, a Colorado man named Chris Watts was charged with killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters and disposing of their bodies. He's admitted to strangling his wife, although he claims it was because he'd become infuriated watching her strangle one of the children. Previously, however, he'd said that he had no idea where his wife was.

Watts was born and raised in North Carolina.

If you want to put a serious dent in America's violent crime rate, ban men, not immigrants.


UPDATE: Well, actually...
The government is incorrectly promoting the idea that Rivera is not in Iowa legally, attorney Allen Richards of Tama said in a court document asking for a gag order in the case....

Rivera has lived in Iowa for four to seven years, working at Yarrabee Farms, a Brooklyn-area farm owned by Eric Lang, the brother of Craig Lang, a prominent Republican.

Craig Lang has verified that Rivera is in Iowa legally, according to Richards’ motion.
Fox and the rest of the right-wing media will pretend not to notice this for a couple of days, then, assuming it's established as incontrovertible fact, quietly drop the subject of Tibbetts altogether -- or perhaps proclaim (as Trump administration has) that even legal immigrants are a menace.


UPDATE: ICE and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services say Rivera is not in the country legally, and the Lang family says Rivera passed an E-Verify check under a different name.


I'm supposed to believe impeachment could be just around the corner:
... [Michael] Cohen was blunt about the president’s culpability as he stood in court and admitted his guilt: “In coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office,” Mr. Cohen said he conspired with a media company to keep secret Mr. Trump’s affair with Stephanie Clifford, a pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels.

“Mr. Cohen, when you took all of these acts that you’ve described, did you know that what you were doing was wrong and illegal?” the judge asked. Mr. Cohen answered, “Yes, your honor.”

... it raised the prospect that Mr. Trump’s presidency could be at risk by impeachment in Congress even if the sprawling Russia investigation never definitively concludes that there was collusion or obstruction of justice.
If Democrats take the House, they might believe this is enough for an impeachment, though I think they know better. I believe any impeachment will be an exercise in futility unless public opinion changes dramatically and persuades Senate Republicans that they should vote to convict. I think impeaching on just this illegal campaign contribution would be a recipe for failure -- and not just because members of the Trump cult would be unmoved.

I think ordinary Americans are simply too cynical about campaign finance -- and rightly so -- to get worked up over this. What's the admission here? That Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to remain silent during the 2016 campaign. But another news story yesterday told us that Sheldon and Miriam Adelson gave $25 million last month to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC. Would you blame people who don't follow politics closely if they don't understand why a six-figure de facto campaign contribution is a felony but an eight-figure gift is just fine? I think most Americans believe that the problem is that American politics is awash in money, not that a gift directly to a candidate ought to be under strict dollar limits while super PAC money can flow much more freely.

Also, Cohen's the guilty plea doesn't change what we already believed about Trump's adultery -- Trump opponents believe (correctly) that he's a sleazebag, while his fans shrug it off. The money is secondary to the loathsome behavior.

It's likely that Cohen has something more substantial to tell Robert Mueller, and now he's more likely to talk. That will matter. This? It won't even cause a noticeable dip in Trump's poll numbers. And Trump will never be impeached and convicted on it. (On similar charges, John Edwards wasn't convicted.)


And really, will there ever be a moment when Republican officeholders and voters defect from Trump? Consider what yesterday was like in Trump's media world, as reported by The Washington Post:
In Trump’s right-wing media universe, it was a day like any other

It’s Tuesday afternoon. Imagine, for a moment, that President Trump logs on to Twitter. News is breaking that could prove existential for his presidency. But his social media feed hardly records the magnitude of the developments.

Instead, a link from Sean Hannity of Fox News appears, announcing the intention of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, to enter a guilty plea but omitting the fact that Cohen’s admission implicates the president. A minute later, another link from Hannity comes through, this one about a former congressional IT staffer targeted by conspiracy theories cooked up by right-wing media and advanced by the president.

Trump’s carefully curated feed is a reflection of the ideological chasm that’s dividing the media and splintering society. Tuesday offered vivid evidence of the way in which right-wing media insulates Trump, and his most devoted supporters, from blunt assessments of his administration.
It's not just "his most devoted supporters" who are influenced by this -- it's virtually all of his supporters. In Republican World, the media diet moves the Overton window so far to the right that even conservatives who are capable of skepticism at least believe that all of Trump's enemies are cynical and corrupt, that Hillary Clinton is a criminal and a Benghazi murderer, and that Democratic electoral victories would literally result in the end of America as we know it.
Alongside a Daily Caller story about Cohen were a series of laudatory posts about Trump, from the president’s defense of free speech to his status as “the most feminist president.” TheBlaze gave prominence to Trump’s attacks on ESPN for not “defending our anthem,” foregrounding the president’s grievances with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence....

Also on offer to the president was an announcement from his own White House about business confidence and a supportive message from Donald Trump Jr. If he went online shortly before 4 p.m., the only “BREAKING NEWS” alert he would have seen was the one from Fox about the 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who law enforcement officials say killed Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old college student who disappeared last month.

Alarm over the student’s death dominated the president’s feed....
This isn't just Trump's bubble -- it's the same bubble his voters live in. I get annoyed when commentators say that Fox & Friends or Hannity is programmed for "an audience of one" -- they're really programmed for an audience of 62,984,828, because the narrative filters out to the universe of Trump's voters.

It's going to take much more than what happened yesterday to move those voters -- and if they're not moved, no Republican in Congress will ever vote to impeach or convict.